HERE'S WHAT I DO TO MANAGE PAIN
Apply ice as soon as possible after injuring your back – preferably within five minutes. The sooner you apply the ice the more it will help. This can be a cold pack, ziplock bag of crushed ice, or even a bag of frozen vegetables like peas or corn. The cold will cause nearby blood vessels to constrict, helping minimize swelling and painful inflammation which has already started. It numbs painful nerves. And the cold stimulates your body to rush more oxygen-rich blood full of antibodies and vital nutrients to repair the injury and carry away waste products as it attempts to warm the area you are cooling with the ice.
First Hour: Apply Heat
Applying heat after you ice your back may seem odd. But ice followed by heat is a powerful way to shock your back out of the pain-spasm cycle. Try 20 minutes of ice followed by 20 minutes of heat. Repeat up to three times and you should get at least some relief from even severe lower back pain. As heat is applied, your back muscles relax and circulation increases again as your body sends fresh blood supply to cool the area back to normal. Repeat heat treatments as necessary. I have found that for me, after the first hour, I start using 30 minute blocks of heat and ice treatments. I use and ice recirculator so I'm not using up all the ice from the ice maker and I don't have to run to the store and buy bags of ice that melts to fast. I also have an oversized heating pad that covers the areas of pain very well.
In the 30 minute blocks, I apply treatment using the formula of 20 minutes of the first treatment followed by 10 minutes of the second treatment and then take a 30 minute rest using a vibrational treatment. So, if I start with ICE then I use my ICE RECIRCULATOR for 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of my OVERSIZED/KING SIZED HEATING PAD. Then I lay on my vibrating massage mat for 30 minutes. If relief hasn't started to ease the pain so that I can tolerate the pain, I repeat the cycle but alternate the treatment application. I use my heating pad for 20 minutes followed by my ice recirculator for 10 minutes followed by my vibrational massage mat for 30 minutes. I continue this cycle until I start to feel enough pain relief that I can tolerate the pain and resume some facets of my life. My intent is to get the pain level down and get back to living a less pain filled lifestyle.
First Day and Beyond: What else you should do
Acute lower back pain typically comes on suddenly and can be painful enough to take your breath away, or even drop you to your knees. While ice and heat can break the initial pain-spasm cycle, you also need to consider how much you should rest, when you should exercise, and what to do about continuing pain and inflammation.